Whitby cemetery: sports field off Larpool Drive 'most promising option' for new site

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Scarborough Council's cabinet will be asked to agree to a public consultation being carried out on a proposed site for future cemetery provision in Whitby.

The council's current cemetery site at Larpool is estimated to reach full capacity in the next four years.

A number of sites have been considered - some ruled out - but Cabinet members will be told the most promising option is a sports field off Whitby' s Larpool Drive.

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Last month, the council’s Lives and Homes Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) was against that field being used due to poor access to the site and lack of public transport in the area, stating their support to use the Whitby Golf Club site as an alternative and requesting Cabinet consider this proposal instead.

The under-used sports field off Whitby's Larpool Drive, which could soon be used as a cemetery site.The under-used sports field off Whitby's Larpool Drive, which could soon be used as a cemetery site.
The under-used sports field off Whitby's Larpool Drive, which could soon be used as a cemetery site.

But in the report to the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday October 19, Council Director Lisa Dixon said: "It was pointed out to OSC members that access issues would be addressed as part of a design plan for a new cemetery site and subsequent planning process.

"In terms of public transport, the Head of Environment and Regulation Service is aware that there is a bus stop, serviced by Arriva UK Bus company, on Eskdale Road, which feeds onto Larpool Lane.

"It is therefore a short distance from the proposed cemetery site."

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The report also points out that in June, Cabinet members recommended certain locations in the borough to be ring-fenced to the Better Homes Joint Venture and that one of these locations was land which currently forms part of Whitby Golf Club - Sandsend Road to the north, Love Lane to the east and Highfield Road to the south.

This decision was approved by Full Council on July 5, and that unless Cabinet members wished to revisit that decision, the Golf Club proposal by the OSC would not be an option for cemetery provision in Whitby.

A parcel of land initially considered in Whitby for a potential future cemetery site was council-owned land to the south of Whitby Abbey, off Green Lane, but the costs of any works to contain previously unrecorded archaeological remains, were likely to be "prohibitively high" and render it unviable for a future cemetery site.

The council’s contractor, Cemetery Development Services Ltd (CDSL), had considered six other sites:

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1) council-owned land south of California Road was ruled out due to the steep topography and proximity to watercourse

2) site at Rohilla Close had been developed into a housing estate

3) existing Larpool cemetery site was reviewed, but the conclusion was there was no capacity, or scope for additional burials there beyond the next four years

4) fields beyond Eskdale School, Stainacre Lane, were unsuitable for cemetery use, because the site comprised playing fields used by the school and the other section had been earmarked for housing development on the Local Plan

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5) land off Stainacre Lane near the Waste Treatment Works is privately owned, but potentially suitable for cemetery development - limited correspondence with the land owner to date

6 under-used 4.4 acre sports field off Larpool Lane/Drive which is currently favoured over the above site as the land is owned by the council and a CDSL feasibility study of the site suggests it may be suitable. An indicative total cost for developing this land for cemetery use has been put in the region of £550,000.

Lisa Dixon added: "As far as the council is concerned the main potential risk is the fact that the land is designated a 'football field' and so any proposals to remove such a facility may attract an objection from Sport England.

"Informal discussions with the Council’s Sports Development Manager have revealed that none of the local football teams play on this field and in practice it is unused as a sports facility.

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"Furthermore, in 2019 it was announced that Eskdale School had been awarded a grant from the Premier League, the FA and Government’s Football Foundation, to install a new floodlit 3rd Generationartificial grass pitch.

"This facility was built and opened earlier this year and will be used by not only a number of local football teams, but also hired on a casual basis, by other local groups.

"Future cemetery provision in Whitby will require the development of a new site.

"So far a number of sites have been considered and discounted for various reasons.

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"However, so far one site, the sports field off Larpool Lane, is the most promising."

The council's Playing Pitch Strategy, approved last month by full council, concluded that the land should not considered a sustainable option for future pitch provision and can be "considered for disposal".

The cabinet meets on Tuesday October 19 when it is recommended that its members agree to a consultation being carried out between October 26 and December 21.

Consultees are likely to include Whitby Town Councillors, borough ward and county councillors, residents' associations and statutory consultees such as Sport England.

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It is then proposed to report back to Cabinet on the outcome of consultation and get a recommendation to approve the go ahead, with planning application and permission processes, on February 15 next year.